Next project: looking for Romans on Caslon Way

Friday 15 February

On site: Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews, Ken Bird, Chris Hobbs, Frankie Saxton, Tony Driscoll, Nigel Harper-Scott, Kat Maddison, Mick James, Muriel Hardman, Cameron Gormill, Peter Owen, Kyle Pattinson

Weather: cold, mostly overcast, dry

Caslon Way, where the Romano-British site is located

Caslon Way, where the Romano-British site is located

We have started two trenches in the garden of 10 Caslon Way, one close to the house, the other further east along the garden. At 3 Caslon Way, on the opposite (western) side of the road, we have a single trench. This gives us a reasonable spread around the known discoveries.

10 Caslon Way, Trench I shortly after removing the turf

10 Caslon Way Trench I starting excavation

Councillor Nigel Agar called in early on, having been confused earlier in the week by an email from the archaeological society that didn’t make explicit who was doing the work. I had emailed him back to explain that it was all part of the Norton Community Archaeology Group’s activities and to invite him along. He contacted councillor David Kearns, who lives nearby and who also dropped in. It’s good to see our elected members taking such an interest.

The trench at 3 Caslon Way after removing the turf

The trench at 3 Caslon Way after removing the turf

All three trenches are turning out to be very different from each other. The sole trench at 3 Caslon Way has a very clayey topsoil, which is relatively shallow. Trench I at 10 Caslon Way (that nearest the house) has a fairly thick sandy topsoil containing a great deal of recent builders’ débris overlying a virtually sterile clayey deposit with chalk flecks of similar thickness to the topsoil. It produced a few small pieces of very abraded ceramic building material that may have been intrusive and, towards the base, a piece of almost dissolved poorly fired ceramic. This lay above natural clay with a sand-filled root hollow an a collection of chalk pebbles that at first appeared to be structural components. Trench II, by contrast, has a rather humic loamy topsoil, overlying a more yellowy deposit, resembling that beneath the topsoil at 3 Caslon Way.

10 Caslon Way, Trench I bottomed

10 Caslon Way, Trench I bottomed

The photographer from The Comet turned up around 2 p.m. He photographed the trench at 3 Caslon Way with the schoolchildren and Kat, which will give the story greater human interest. It is also good evidence to use in the Lottery application to show our community outreach as a group.

By 2.45, it had become clear that Trench I at 10 Caslon Way contained no archaeological deposits, so it can now be backfilled. That leaves the other two trenches, where progress has not been as rapid and where there may be a better chance of recovering archaeological material (even if no deposits remain in situ).

At the time, I thought the material in the bottom of Trench 1 at 10 Caslon Way was natural, but now I suspect it may be a surface similar to that found in Trench II to the east.

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About Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews

I'm the Archaeology Officer for North Hertfordshire District Council Museum Service. I was born and brought up in Letchworth Garden City, so I have a life-long connection with the area.

Posted on 15 February 2008, in Fieldwork, Test Pits. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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